An immortal and very old man resides in a mausoleum. He is the last man on Earth. He hears a great noise, goes outside and is disappointed, it was only a starship decelerating in the atmosphere. The aliens land and attempt to interview the man using a translator. He amuses himself by changing languages many times during the interview until he is caught. The aliens leave after determining that the man believes everyone died of 'Peace' and that he had refused this peace and had been condemned to immortality.

I last read this over twenty years ago, but it was probably from the golden age, possibly from Galaxy or Amazing Stories.

I have just read "Forever" by Damon Knight (1981), this is a very short story and nothing like the one I am seeking.

Sorry for the delay but no it is NOT 'Forever' by Damon Knight.

One extra item, one of the aliens responsible for recording the interaction with the 'Last Man' uses a key word for the files calling them 'Beetles & Birchbark' or something similar.

Update: I think the Aliens were Humanoid, the Interview team consisted of a Male and Female. The rest of the crew were mentioned as investigating the Crypts and when they started drilling holes in things, the old Man chased them out of the mausoleum.

Update: It is NOT contained within the 'The Last Man on Earth' anthology by Isaac Asimov.

  • 1
    There's a similar story about Trans-humans and one old un-upgraded man meeting the first aliens to contact humanity - IIRC "The Last Man" by IIRC Alfred Bester of around the same era, but that's a slightly different approach. Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 21:55
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    "The Monster" by A. E. van Vogt, published in 1948 hits some of the spots. Humans have found physical immortality, but they still died out. Aliens come and resurrect one of them and question him about what killed his species. He messes with their heads and plays mind games with them and offers them "Peace" on human terms. The aliens leave to get backup so they can kill him. You can read it here pastebin.com/pHLcpLcn
    – jo1storm
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 8:00
  • "The Monster" was another of my favorite stories, I am a fan of van Vogt. But, no that is not the story I was looking for. I had fun re-reading it though.
    – Seldon2k
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 15:58
  • This is ringing vague memory bells like it might have been one of the stories in the Asimov-edited anthology The Last Man on Earth.
    – Lexible
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 4:53

1 Answer 1


Hmm... this is probably not it, but just in case you're remembering parts of two different stories: "Forever" by Damon Knight (1981) has a "last immortal man on Earth visited by aliens" setup, and they do try to talk to him in a bunch of different languages; finally they just ask him if he wants to come with them, he says no thanks, so they leave.

However, he's eternally young (he took the immortality treatment as a prepubescent child), and I don't remember there being anything about "peace"— I think all the other immortal people basically just got tired of living.

  • What's the other story? Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 4:22
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    I don't have another one in mind - I just meant that the story I'm thinking of fits some of the questioner's details very well but not others, so probably I'm wrong, but it also could be that the details that don't fit are actually from something else. That's happened to me before.
    – E. Bishop
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 5:13
  • Sorry for the delay but no it is NOT 'Forever' by Damon Knight. I am 99% certain that the things I do recall are correct and not a concatenation of other stories.
    – Seldon2k
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 23:21

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